Sugar and spice and everything nice… but sticks and stones aren’t alone


The other day Tigg and I were driving behind a car with a collection of idiotic bumper stickers. He probably would tell you he has a right to express his opinion. In my opinion he wasn’t expressing much… just proving ignorance and a few other words I’d rather not type. But for some reason or another, I was mad about these stickers. I’m not easily offended… but these seemed unnecessary.

Seriously, it’s not the words or the images that bothered me. While I try to keep this web site a bit on the family-friendly side at times, the fact is if you are emotionally scarred for life by seeing Janet Jackson’s boobs on national television, you need help for a checklist of issues. And the same thing is true for commercials and television shows, radio broadcasts and bumper stickers.

Unfortunately, I need to acknowledge that we live in a society where media… media… media matters almost always more than content. So you get protesters waving paper and making phone calls and clicking send on their e-mails when a show runs at 8pm with a swear or suggestive comment. Because that protest gets articles written and reporters on the news. But a year later, when the syndicated broadcast comes on at 6pm, no one cares and it hasn’t been edited.

In fact… I’ve watched some shows broadcast with blurry strips during prime time first runs, only to be clean and perfectly in focus during earlier evening hours just a few months later.

So what gives?

Maybe I’m just looking for some sort of acknowledgement about polite conversation. And this guy’s truck went over a line for me. Do cartoon Calvin’s peeing on Ford logos really count as freedom of speech? I mean, come on, are there really people that feel so strongly about these expressions that when their driving has crossed the border into reckless, their request that I dial 1-800-eat-shit is a Constitutionally protected right? I need to see this?

And more to the point…

Why do I even care?

Well... for one reason... I care because of television.

No… no… not the shows. The commercials. Take this pill… take that pill… and so many of them with a wink-wink or a nudge-nudge, not so subtle and definitely unnecessary.

But do these wonderful protectors of our best interests go after things like these pharmaceutical commercials? Of course not. These companies can tell me that a side effect lasting more than four hours needs medical attention any time of day they want to… basically, apparently, provided that they don’t show a full-frontal actual photograph of the side effect.

Oh but boy howdy… language. These folks do so love going after language.

Get Gordon Ramsay swearing on television and politicians are calling for investigations. And the story about Ramsay is just one example.

At first I felt a bit torn on this subject. After all, when I watch an episode of Family Guy and find it hysterical, and then want to tell people to just change the channel or turn the television off if they have a problem with it… then maybe I’m not the one in the best position to say those stickers aren’t appropriate. And heck, I laughed my ass off the other morning when Al Roker managed to hold it together after Meredith Vieira informed him she was a bit moist. (It was misting out folks… get your mind back on the subject at hand.)

Eventually it hit me. There is a difference between being offensive and being polite… a difference between freedom of expression and trampling on others. And I’m not wrong for believing that many things cross that line, and often some of the ones seemingly crossing it aren’t the ones doing the real harm. Life happens. People swear. Young kids see naked adults. But how about a bit of context… a bit of situation… a bit of reality when considering if nudity… if swearing… if life is obscene? Because I have to tell you… I’ve gone to museums and seen statues of Venus… and there were times when I wasn’t hypnotized by that statue because it was art.

Where’s the line? Well… it’s something I thought about a few years ago when I was writing a few comments about Howard Stern. Basically, at the time, I said the really funny thing about people complaining about Howard is that those people essentially got exactly what they expected to get. Very few people were turning in to Howard by accident and suddenly being upset (when he was on the old-time radio stations). Most of those complaining zeroed in on his broadcast on purpose, waiting for him to say something a bit controversial, and then complained when he did. Which to me is a bit like getting upset with a baby for creating a messy diaper... come on, what did you really expect?

These bumper stickers give me no choice… no warning… they simply appear.

We could go on for a while. After all, Janet’s pierced nipple simply appeared as well if we want to get technical and really argue my attempt at a definition. But the fact remains… most of this stuff isn’t really harming anyone. All I’m asking for is a bit more consideration for the time and place.

So go ahead… piss on a Dodge emblem and tell me to shove it. That’s fine. I’m even good if you want to display an inflatable rat. I’ve got no problem with that. Just please… please… stop with the commercials of bathtubs on top of a hill in the middle of the baseball scores.


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